News from Paraguay January 2021
This year is going to be a blessed year—we know this, in case you did not know that was the case—it truly is going to be a blessed year. We might have to look a little harder than in previous years to be aware of these blessings, but they are there. We might have to turn from big distractions in order to see them, but they are there. We might need to accept somethings in order to step into the new blessings, but they are there. We might need to forgive a little in order to have a posture to receive, but it is there. We might even need to make conscious decisions to worship more, even in the midst of grief and pain, but the blessing is there. What we do need to do, though, is know He is a good Father, and doesn’t give us a stone when we ask Him for bread. He is our Provision. Let us push into Him and receive from Him this year.
We hope you are well and have had a better start to 2021 than we did. The whole family caught Covid; not sure where we got it from. So, Christmas dinner and all the lovely treats were pretty bland as we both lost our senses of smell and taste. [Note from John: there are many who say I have never had good taste, but I don’t mean ‘taste of fashion’, but flavours.] Then, on the January 3rd, John went one further and had an emergency appendectomy. He is now doing really well, recovering and back to driving and work.
It has been wonderful seeing our kids grow through last year and how well Alicia is taking to being a big sister, especially now that Jesse can actually ‘do stuff’. He started walking at 11 months and Alicia would constantly ask from the day he could sit by himself how long it would be before he is walking. I don’t think we could have taken many more weeks of that question. Considering how strict government restrictions have been here in Paraguay regarding children— preventing them from going to the supermarkets and parks, playgrounds and schools—it was a huge blessing that Alicia and Jesse could play together, entertain themselves and annoy each other (starts young between siblings, right?). Jesse shares Alicia’s love of animals. When we are in the community he is so content with all the pigs, ducks, chickens, dogs, cats and, of course, a pocket monkey. He does not want to touch or hold the monkey, but is very happy to run around after Alicia and her friends as they played with it. Alicia has managed to do a whole year of nursery school online, having only returned to school after the summer holidays for 2 weeks before they were closed down for the whole year (which should restart this February). She can now write her name, which means it appears all over the house on post-it notes, shopping lists and documents if left lying around too long. We are so proud of both of them and how they have gotten through the different trials of 2020.
Thought from Afar
This last week the kids have been having lots of fun playing with cornstarch (mixed with water of course) delighting themselves at the way it goes so quickly from solid to liquid. It also meant I can stay inside with the air-con on escaping the heat. They have been fascinated how you can squeeze and make a ball of the mixture, pass it to the next person and watch as it then falls apart in the hands of the receiver, running through their fingers. Whilst watching them play and marvel at this, the preacher in me couldn’t help but think this is such a good illustration for how, for many, this last year has been like. As we prepared for Christmas and the end of the year I often look back on the things that have or rather have not happened. This has been the first year in a long time that we have not made it back to the UK in some way, shape or form. Our families (apart from my parents, who were in Paraguay for the birth) have not met Jesse yet (and with all the restrictions, travel, protocols, etc., we are not sure if it might not be a 2 year old grandson they eventually meet), which has been really hard for us. Family weddings and big birthday celebrations have been postponed. We also haven’t been able to visit our supporters in the UK. This is something that is important to us as we share personal stories of what is happening and the things they are releasing us to.
Things that we had made so certain to happen, plans that had been made and set in stone, seemed to melt away as the months passed by, as if they were made of that cornstarch mixture. I was feeling a bit miffed and down about the whole thing
Then, sat at my desk, I looked at an old post-it-note I had put up years ago. It has even twice moved house with us. Psalm 121 vs 1-4.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep
A feeling of comfort and peace swept over me as I read the words. So much has shifted, people have lost their lives, jobs, income, missed family in a way that we have, been through things we as a nation and community never experienced before. Even so, God has been there with us every moment, not letting our feet step onto that quicksand, but being the Solid Rock that we can depend upon, no matter what is going on around us. For that I am thankful, for that I praise Him no matter what our circumstances look like or how we may feel.
My help comes from the Lord!
Our help comes from the Lord!
Prayer and Praise
Thank you to everyone who prayed for tenants and our house in the UK. Days before the restrictions and lockdowns began, we had new tenants move in and they have been wonderful. Not only was it a relief to finally have the property occupied again, but it took care of so many outgoings, releasing us from a weight of stress.
With our growing family, with have outgrown our truck. We can fit ourselves, the kids and their car seats in, but then no one else fits. This proves to be rather difficult when we are out doing ministry as a family and people need to be taken to hospitals, etc. We remember when we bought this truck in 2013. The way it came about was a miracle. We know God can and will provide again. Since buying the truck, we have clocked over 343,000Kms. It has been used regularly as an ambulance to take people from rural areas into the city hospitals. It has carried many coffins and transported families to wakes. It has taken groups of people to both events of mourning and also brought people to places to celebrate new life—mothers with their new born babies, a stranded father who could not make it to see his newborn due to terrible weather gets picked up and celebrates with his wife this new precious life. It has also been the vehicle which brings New Life that is received through the taking of the Good News and preaching it. It has taken us to places where we are now welcomed by the people there and heard when we speak. It has taken us through rain / mud / rivers / jungle and desert; over all terrain to be messengers of the Good News. It really has served us well. But, we are aware of our need to add to the tools available to us in order to keep up ministering as we do.
NOW TO BE VERY CLEAR: This is not the ‘fundraiser’ part of a newsletter, the part where we ‘sell you a project’ to get involved with. No. A good friend of ours said to us 6 years ago; ‘share a need and welcome prayer. Don’t share a thing and beg”. That is exactly it. We see you as our support who, through the years, have held us in prayer. Given us counsel. Celebrated with us and encouraged us. We see you as walking with us on this adventure of faith. We hope you see our heart in sharing this need with you. For without your prayer support, input and love, we would not have grown over the years to where we are today. We know Him who will provide. And so, could we ask those of you who pray, to hold this need (and several other unspoken ones) before our Provider and King? While recently re-reading stories from Corrie ten Boom and her ministry / approach to things like this, we have come to the same conclusion as she did: The Lord is our Shepherd, our Treasure. The gold is His and the silver is His. It would be better for us to live as the trusting children of our ‘rich Father than beggars at the door of earthly men’. Our Father is Lord over all. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. If we need money, we will just ask the Father to sell a few cows.
Join with us in prayer
It is on its way.
Blessings to you
We pray blessings to you and yours, as we go into this New Year, may you know His walking with you, His presence in your life, His Spirit working through you, and His guidance through these next twelve months.
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